No Place for Plant Shaming

DATE : April 17, 2020 By :

I was reading an article last week, “Plant shaming? Englewood Bonsai tree taken off front porch, note left behind” (2017), where an individual’s bonsai tree was plantnapped. The person who stole the plant left a letter behind humiliating the owner regarding the dry soil. To receive it back, the owner had to call them and request it.

At first read, I laughed. Then I thought about it again–that’s an invasion of privacy; that’s a form of public shaming; it’s definitely plant shaming. Lastly, it’s just unnecessary drama that no one truly needs, especially in the plant world. All of this reminded me of good ole Instagram.

For many, selling is an income; for many, purchasing is for a genuine collection; and for many, taking care of plants is pure sanity. Buyers and sellers, alike, can’t let folks dictate what brings joy.

Here are a few types of shaming prevalent in the online plant community:


  • Price Shaming. This is the type of shaming that is based on plant cost. Whether you pay $10 or $100, it’s really shouldn’t matter. But as we know there tends to be those who mock you for paying a lot for a plant; or laugh because you are only buying from the $10 and Under section. But does it really matter? It shouldn’t. After all, you are purchasing based on your personal taste and budget. It kind of reminds me of art. A piece of art is worth $10 because someone paid $10 for it; it’s worth $1000 because someone will pay it. There’s really no reason to shame buyers for paying it; or sellers for pricing it as such.
  • Rarity. Did you know that ginseng and Venus Flytraps are endangered? And in many states, it’s illegal to take them from the wild? But still yet we take ginseng capsules and purchase flytrap seedlings online and have zero qualms it.  We rarely find people attempting to shame others for the use of and purchase of these plants. But individuals tend to focus on other items that, perhaps, big pharma attempted to destroy  (by the thousands of tons) like Dioscorea Mexicana used it for its medicinal components.  Individuals attempt to shame each other especially on social media because of their ownership or promotion of the sale of particular plants; plants that, perhaps, was even ethically grown and sourced.  It’s one thing to simply ask where the source of the plants are from, but it’s on the verge of libel and slander to write accusations online, screenshot peoples’ posts and comment regarding their plant sourcing.
  • Condition Shaming. Condition shaming is based on individuals attempting to publicly shame you for the type of soil used or even the amount of lighting or water (see article mentioned in para 1). I live in Puerto Rico. It’s hot here. August is especially intolerable. It’s very difficult for me to tell individuals which soil mix works for me as my plants need watered more often as they dry quicker. Equally, my euphorbia obesas can’t be left outside without getting horrible sunburn. However many of my buyers and other sellers in California keep theirs outside with no problem. Again, offering suggestions based on the conditions from where you live is definitely helpful. But there’s a fine line after that where snide remarks are unwarranted.

But what if someone attempts to plant shame you publicly?

  • Contact the seller. When purchasing a plant online, send a direct message to the seller. Tell them you do not want others to know which plants you plan to purchase or the money you plan to spend. Eliminating your name on IG or FB posts destroys any chance the public will know what type of plant or the cost spent. In turn, eliminates unnecessary comments. Imagine if everything you purchased on was an open forum and everyone saw it–keep the same mentality for plants.
  • Purchase on a website. Consider purchasing from a website. At this point, even the owner of the site probably doesn’t know your online avatar/screenname. There’s pleasure in privacy of online shopping. If you decide to tag the store from where you purchased it later–that’s on you.
  • Confront. Tell the person plant shaming you that online harassment is illegal; that there’s legal ramifications for individuals who make false statements against others or businesses. The online plant world is small. Everyone buys and sells from each other. As such its easy to find someone’s real name and postal address and have an attorney contact them. It shouldn’t get to that point, by any means–but keep in mind the online harassment or false accusations shouldn’t have went that far either.
  • Ignore them. Simply block the individuals from all of your online pages. Sometimes less is more–you may not even need to say a word. People sit back and read comments and make up their minds before you can explain yourself. Sometimes you don’t need to explain yourself. Reputations come before people. Let their behavior speak for itself especially if it’s a habit.



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